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Rod Salka on his controversial trunks: ‘I’m not bigoted or racist’

Rod Salka discusses THOSE trunks.

Danny Garcia v Rod Salka Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Rod Salka was best known as the man who almost had his head seperated from its shoulders in a Brooklyn ring, in 2014, compliments of Danny Garcia. That claim to fame has been superseded, though, by the hubbub the PA-based 130-140 pound fighter caused on April 12. On that night, in Indio, CA, Salka came to the ring for a fight against Mexican-born Francisco Vargas wearing trunks which made clear his stance against illegal immigration.

The shorts said “America 1st” on them, and were emblazoned with bricks, making up a wall, an obvious reference to the wall which President Trump has promised to build to keep Mexicans from entering the US illegally. As he made clear on the day he announced his candidacy, Trump believes that too many of those “illegals” are bad actors, who commit rapes and sell drugs and wreak havoc on the saintly citizenry. That message helped bring Trump over the finsh line, past his Democrat rival, and his views on immigration continue to help build a wall between his fans and those on the other wise, who make no secret of their disdain for his character and behavior.

When Salka got stopped by Vargas, who battered him hard in round five and six, rendering him unfit to continue into round seven, a nation of anti-Trump fight fans erupted in joyous applause.

Down goes the bigot!

Mainstream media found the story, and Salka got torched by even casual fight fans and non-boxing fans.

But we on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast wanted to know what he was thinking. Is he actually a bigot? Would he admit that Trump bankrolled this effort? Would he apologize to Vargas, after having time to think about his attire choice?

Salka came on “Talkbox,” and explained why he wore the trunks, and what it was that he wanted to accomplish.

“I did 10 years in the military, I’m proud to be an American,” the 35 year old man said. “I’m proud to be from here.”

He said he realizes that everyone back in the day was an immigrant to these shores, but no, he’s not a racist, Salka told us.

He is pro-legal immigration, he said, and further, he said, “I do want to kind of distinguish myself from President Trump personally. Whereas I’m conservative and I hold conservative views, I’m not bigoted or racist towards any group of people. I do think we need to put America first a lot more than we do, in a lot instances.”

I pointed out that his trunks acted as an implicit endorsement of the man who kicked off his campaign labeling an outsized portion of Mexicans as rapists, and Salka said he understood that. Did he want to get this sort of reaction?

“I knew,” he said. He said that most people don’t think heavily about hot button issues, like the illegal immigration topic, so he knew that there would be a knee-jerk reaction. He’s received messages from “fans” who think he should fall off a cliff…but he also has had many, many discussions with people who started off torching him but came around to engaging in civil discourse.

He said he messaged back people who messaged him expletives, and of 50 of those back and forths, maybe 40 of them ended peacefully, with an “agree to disagree” resolution.

Bottom line, he knew the trunks would be on surface divisive, but wanted to take it a step further, by getting into some real debate about the issue.

And we did just that on the pod. I explained why I found it offensive that the President labels and degrades people, without almost ever offering facts and figures to support a stance. Salka came back to his POV, he maintains, which is that immigration must be done legally.

And the millions that are here, and have been here for decades, and are useful and beloved members of their community, should there be round-ups of them? Should they be tossed out? And if yes, why? So millions of high-paying jobs would open up, so the American dream would now be made available to those who’d had the opportunity stolen from them by an “illegal?” These are the specifics we went into...

Listen for yourself, and see if maybe you get a better sense of why Salka wore the trunks, and so lived up to his nickname, “Lightning Rod.” Also, see what Salka said when I suggested he seek to secure a fight against Mexican hitter Canelo Alvarez.

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